There’s an old adage – “Whoever wins the turnover battle wins the game” – that immediately comes to mind when thinking about games like this. In a game where both teams played eachother on a reasonably even level, turnovers were the true difference. There were only two all game, both came in almost the exact same situation – Ryan Fitzpatrick setting up for a deep sideline throw to Steve Johnson – which Johnson got open for – that was underthrown and played beautifully by Giants cornerback Corey Webster.
This thought, that both were miscues on Fitzpatrick’s behalf, was all but confirmed in interviews with Chan Gailey this week. Johnson immediately blamed himself following the game, as did Fitzpatrick, and 14 was the one to place it all on. Besides those two throws, he was very good in this one, going 21-30 for 244 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Unfortunately, those plays did happen, however, and they were the deciding factor after a game filled with chances for us.
The Giants did a great job of making the Bills’ playmaking safeties nonfactors by running a lot of short and intermediate routes with error-prone quarterback Eli Manning and by making Ahmad Bradshaw (130 total yards, 3 touchdowns) a major part of the offense. Manning did what was necessary of him and kept control of the ball and, as is usually the case with that team, his play dictated the team’s fate.
It felt great to see cornerback Terrence McGee return to play, and he was a very physical presence in this one, recording 11 tackles and tipping two passes. On the opposite side of the field, Drayton Florence did his best Leodis McKelvin impression in getting beat on a few big plays and drawing ridiculously dumb penalties (one of which was questionable, but still) en route to quite possibly his worst day in a Bills uniform to date. The defense continued to go without a sack, missing both starting outside ‘backers dearly (both seem likely to return after the bye week).
The offensive line didn’t hold up well against the number one ranked pass rush, allowing three sacks, something very uncharacteristic of them this year – though, to be fair they were playing with a handicap. During the game, backup left tackle Chris Hairston, who was starting in place of Demetrius Bell, went down to injury which prompted a shift – Andy Levitre slid over from guard, and Chad Rinehart stepped in to replace him there. In that patchwork fix, they played better than expected, but Fitz was still feeling insane pressure throughout.
The defensive schemes need to improve, as we are still generating zero pressure on opposing quarterbacks and, while I don’ t agree with many in the media saying that this team lives and dies by the turnover, it showed today that they do rely on those opportunities.
More on all of that and then some later this week – since there’s nothing else to write about during the bye, we’ll talk coaching, contracts, injuries, and everything else when we meet next. Until next time, Go Bills.